It has been a great trip to Massachusetts indeed. In early planning I thought there was at best a 50% chance for a Dovekie and a 50% chance on top of that for a decent photo. Then that Barnacle Goose showed up and became the priority. Per my last blog post, the second time was the charm for that. ABA Lifer and ABA photo #709. It was cold today – mid-teens and wind chill in single digits, but the sun was out and I rented a car and headed to Gloucester hoping for that Dovekie.
Fisherman’s Memorial Monument
First stop was the Fisherman’s Memorial Monument. Dovekies had been seen from there. There were lots of Common Eiders. Wait what is that? A small black and white alcid. Could it be? A quick photo and it disappeared in a deep and very long dive. And I never saw it again. My first look at the photo almost had me believing. But almost is not good enough. I had a Razorbill. Nice but NOT a Dovekie.
Several more stops including the breakwater at the Eastern Point Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary/Lighthouse. Lots more Common Eiders, some Harlequin Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Scoters, Scaup, Buffleheads and Mergansers. I hiked out the length of the breakwater and flushed a Purple Sandpiper but no alcids. The light was great for some Eider photos though.
Common Eiders – Male and Female
It was cold in the wind and I needed every layer – and I had brought many. The breakwater was an easy walk but it was very exposed. If the wind had been high, it would have been impossible. It was manageable.
About half way back, it happened. Another black and white form was in front of me and it was not one of the many male Buffleheads. In excellent light and not more than 50 feet away a Dovekie swam and dove and allowed me to get my life view and my life photo. They are incredibly small. It was a very nice moment.
At best I had expected a distant view and without a scope that might have been impossible even if some were present. This was as good as it gets. I forgot the cold for at least a while.
It was just after noon. I wanted to miss the traffic returning to Newton, but there was time for one more quest. Not quite at the top of my worst bird photos, but right behind Winter Wren, Sinaloa Wren and American Woodcock is a terrible photo of a Great Cormorant. I spent the next hour plus looking for them in the harbor, on rocks, on islands – in Rockport and back in Gloucester. Nada. One more try – Bass Rocks in Gloucester. As I headed north on the beautiful road with beautiful houses with beautiful views, just before Bass Rocks, numerous dark forms were on a relatively flat rock about 200 yards out. Up until this day I had seen a total of 4 Great Cormorants in the ABA area and had that one awful photo. I had also seen them in Africa, and Asia. On this one rock were 13. Too far out for great photos but not too bad and an enormous improvement. A great end to a great day and great trip.
Two life birds and two life photos and the third one may as well have been one as well. Sign me up for this anytime.